Please ignore the egregious error being perpetrated by that nasty little website, Facebook. The folks at Facebook decided to send around a message to all my friends this week claiming that I have turned 49.
"Getting old is wonderful," my neighbor Robert Akeley told me with a smile, his blue eyes lighting up, when I asked him for the single most important message he'd like to pass on to Huffington Post readers.
In my experience, every single person who has mastered the great art of successful aging has had an inner grit. Not necessarily with any bravado or flourish, but with a steely determination to look loss straight in the face without blinking.
OK, you just bought a jar of kosher pickles and you're dying to put one on the burger you just barbecued. You should be able to just unscrew the lid easily, remove the juicy pickle from its briny bathwater and slap it on the meat. This used to be easy. Not anymore.
When I read and see how the millennials conduct themselves, how they date, socialize and lead their lives, I have nothing in my own history to compare it to. That piece on "The End of Courtship" made me feel from another era.
A few weeks ago I turned 56. To commemorate and celebrate, I ran 5.6 miles around Central Park. It felt good knowing I could run that distance and still be fit enough to join my husband and daughters at a birthday dinner downtown a few hours later. That's a sea change from when I turned 50.
If you grow up with a negative attitude, are abusive to others, complain about everything, and are never thankful for the blessings in your life, then you probably are going to be a grumpy, mean 'ole cuss.
Growing up, I remember Auntie Honey harping constantly about almost everything. Her most bitter comments were about her mother -- my grandmother -- a slight, sweet, extremely religious woman who had lost her mind and didn't know where she had left it.
It is totally possible to embrace the aging process and grow older fearlessly! But as with everything, the choice is yours. Choose fearlessness rather than denial, which does not produce the results you seek and keeps you constricted and stuck.
There's nothing quite like "placing" an elderly family member in a "facility" to conjure up feelings of guilt and shame and anger and, yes, failure. None of those feelings was communicated to us in any way by my father-in-law.
I followed the trajectory of his eyes, and there could be no doubt, he was staring at her, the way men used to stare at me. In fact, the whole coffee shop was enthralled with Beth. Nobody even glanced at me. I hated her.